It’s a sad day here in Virginia. Virginians just elected a Republican governor, the first Republican to hold the governor’s mansion since Bob McDonnell from 2010-2014. McDonnell left office in a storm of criminal investigations and federal indictments for corruption. I’m pretty sure it will be the same with Glenn Youngkin, a mini-Trump who won the office on unsubtle racist dog whistles, white supremacy and insurrection. For what it’s worth, Terry McAuliffe – the former Democratic governor who was running for a second non-consecutive term – was and is a mediocre candidate. But still, statewide elections in Virginia have trended pure blue since McDonnell’s mess. But here we are.
Let’s also be fair about something else: the local, state and national media were happy about this Virginia result. They’ve been writing McAuliffe’s political obituary all year and it’s clear no one learned jacksh-t from the Trump years. The media was gleefully playing along when Youngkin played fast and loose with just how much of a Trump Nazi he is. Still, with all of the focus on Virginia, a lot of reporters missed the New Jersey election:
Republican Glenn Youngkin pulled off the upset in Virginia, defeating Terry McAuliffe in the governor’s race. And in perhaps and even bigger stunner in New Jersey, Republican Jack Ciatarelli leads by about 1,200 votes out of 2.3 million over incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who had been favored.
The New Jersey race is likely headed for a recount, but just the fact that the election is this close shows how much energy Republicans had on their side heading into Tuesday night. Both results are sending shockwaves through a Democratic political establishment that has had little good news over the last few months.
In that time, the delta variant and prices have surged, the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan was chaotic, and Democrats’ agenda on Capitol Hill stalled. While the economy has continued to recover and coronavirus cases are declining again, we are a long way from President Biden’s “summer of freedom.”
All of it has added up to a decline in Biden’s poll numbers and political capital. The cherry on top is Democrats losing an election in a state Biden won by 10 percentage points in the 2020 presidential election and being essentially tied in a state Biden won by 16.
You would have thought that Trumpkin won in a landslide. He won by less than 70,000 votes! And it rained all f–king day in most of the state, which depressed turnout on Election Day. I mean, while this is bad news for Democrats, it doesn’t follow that this is overwhelmingly great news for Republicans. And in case anyone wants to hear something ominous, this is what Donald Trump said last night: “The MAGA movement is bigger and stronger than ever before.” Pass.
Anyway, congrats to us here in Virginia. I imagine Youngkin’s first task will be reinstalling all of those Confederate statues.
Photos courtesy of Getty.